As the number of homeless veterans in New York City continues to trend sharply downward, the de Blasio administration’s newly reemphasized goal of entirely eliminating veteran homelessness in the five boroughs by the end of the year seems within reach.
The trend began in the last year of the Bloomberg administration, with the number of homeless veterans decreasing 72 percent since the beginning of 2013, after a concerted city-federal effort, to a current estimate total of 1,000 homeless veterans. The estimated total in Jan. 2013 was 3,547; in Jan. 2014, it was 1,645.
“We commit to ending chronic veteran homelessness by the end of this year,” de Blasio said at his State of the City speech on Tuesday. “Those who fight to protect our freedom abroad should never be left without a home.”
(The term “chronic,” by the definition of the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, refers here to “an individual or family with a disabling condition who has been continuously homeless for a year or more or has had at least four episodes of homelessness in the past three years.” But a de Blasio spokeswoman told Capital the mayor was referring to an elimination of homelessness among all veterans, both chronically homeless veterans—of which there are roughly 75 in the entire city—and the others.)
Federal agencies began work with the Bloomberg administration and city nonprofit organizations after President Obama declared a goal of eliminating veteran homelessness nationwide by 2015.
The New York City Coalition on the Continuum of Care, a group representing homeless advocacy organizations and shelter operators, was charged with overseeing federal homeless housing funding, coordinating with the Mayor’s Office of Veterans’ Affairs and the Veterans Administration. In 2014, according to Supportive Housing Network of New York deputy executive director Nicole Branca, the organizations folded their efforts into a formal initiative called Mission Home.